Introduction & Drive Details
M.2 NVMe SSDs have changed the storage landscape forever. Everyone wants them because they are many times faster than SATA-based SSDs and slot right onto most motherboards. With few exceptions, modern M.2 NVMe SSDs are so fast that mainstream users are now focusing on value over all-out performance. It's becoming difficult for most users to discern a difference in user experience between select value oriented and flagship type NVMe SSDs.
The M.2 NVMe value segment is exploding because you can now get SSDs that were cost prohibitive a short time ago for a steal. Kingston is looking to be the value segment leader with their newest M.2 NVMe offering - the A2000 series. Kingston's A2000 series has a whole lot to offer at what is at this time the lowest cost NVMe SSD with TLC flash and DRAM we can find.
Kingston's A2000 series SSDs offer built-in hardware encryption, a five-year warranty and even Acronis migration software is included. The 1TB version we have on the bench today has a MSRP of just $99.99 (we've seen even lower street prices). The A2000 series pairs SMI's potent SM2263ENG 4-channel controller with Micron's latest 96-layer NAND and Kingston's' own DDR4, all on a single-sided M.2 x 2280 PCB.
Let's dive in and take a closer look:
The drive ships in a familiar blister pack, in-fact it's the same packaging Kingston uses for their SATA SSDs.
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils
Kingston rates sequential performance for the 1TB A2000 at up to 2,200 MB/s read and 2,000 MB/s write. We had no problem meeting and exceeding factory specs on our AMD Zen 2 platform, even with the drive running as our OS disk 50% filled with data. Plenty fast for most users to be sure, however we are much more impressed with the drive's random read performance at QD1.
When an SSD delivers a random read performance of 73 MB/s at QD1 we expect a great user experience will ensue, and that is exactly what we are getting from Kingston's A2000 1TB.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
The A2000's 4-channel controller is meant to be cost effective, and when compared with 8-channel controllers it doesn't deliver high sequential numbers or high IOPS at high queue depths. We are fine with that because user experience comes mainly from random read performance at QD1. The A2000 is serving up a whopping 17,000 IOPS where it matters most.
We don't place much importance on max IOPS, we are just showing what the drive can deliver while running in our test-state. That said, we are easily exceeding factory specs.
Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO
Like we saw with Anvil's, the A2000 doesn't deliver a score that wows. This is because much of AS SSD's scoring is based on 4K-64 Threads which isn't really where mainstream users will spend much if any time. However, the A2000 again serves up the goods where it matters most to the end-user, delivering over 16K random read IOPS at QD1.
Kingston's A2000 is running at full factory rated sequential speeds at 128KB transfers, which is exactly what we are looking for, along with exceptional small-file performance.
Real-World Testing: Game Loading & PCM8
Here is what exceptional random read performance at low queue depth does for user experience. The A2000 has the second-best game launching performance of any flash-based SSD on our chart. This is because the A2000 has the second best QD1 random read performance of any flash based SSD.
Take a good look at the premium SSDs the A2000 is beating like a drum - impressive to say the least.
We feel that PCMark 8 storage test is the best indicator of real-world type performance / user experience. Kingston's A2000 1TB will deliver an overall user experience that is just below that of Samsung's venerable EVO Plus 1TB and FAR better than anything below it on our charts. The A2000 absolutely eviscerates Intel's 660P 1TB which is its main competition in the value segment.
Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates
This is a big chunk of data composed of more than 62,000 files and 100GB in size. Transfers of this magnitude can be quite taxing on a test subject. The A2000 doesn't dazzle here and we weren't expecting for it to do so. We do like the fact that the A2000 can transfer this giant block of data 2.45x faster than Intel's 660P.
Here again, we see that the A2000 is limited by its four-channel controller. Still, it is at least 3x faster than any SATA SSD and significantly faster than Intel's 660P.
Looking back at our test results we can only conclude that Kingston hit the mark with their A2000 1TB SSD. The drive delivers a user experience that is nearly on par with Samsung's EVO Plus and even better than a 970 Pro when it comes to gaming. When you stop and consider that Kingston is doing all this for less than 10 cents per gigabyte, it's easy to see why we consider the A2000 to be today's top value for mainstream users looking to upgrade to M.2 NVMe goodness.
When we compare the A2000 to its main competition, Intel's 660P, the A2000 beats it easily on every front. Not only does the A2000 deliver far superior performance to Intel's 660P, it does so for the same price. Additionally, Kingston's A2000 at 1TB is rated for 3x the endurance of Intel's 660P 1TB. That alone is reason enough to choose the A2000 over the 660P. In the end it is user experience that really matters and Kingston's A2000 is serving it up exceptionally well at an exceptional price point.
Kingston's A2000 1TB NVMe PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD is TweakTown approved and highly recommended.
- Overall Value
- Real World Performance
- 5-Year Warranty
The Bottom Line
At this time, Kingston's A2000 1TB is the best overall value in NVMe for mainstream users.